Lumberjacks break scoring drought, split pair of road matches in Las Vegas
By Raymond Reid
After the Lumberjacks opened their home schedule against in-state foes ASU and UA, head coach Andre Luciano questioned his team’s mettle and their lack of passion and fire on the field.
This past weekend, at the UNLV Rebel Classic, the fire rose out of the Lumberjacks in their bouts with Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and the University of Oklahoma.
Against the Owls of FAU, the Jacks kept their feet on the pedal.
While posting their first double-digit shot total of the season and winning the second half of the game for the first time all season, the Lumberjacks ended up right where they wanted to be, in the win column.
With the first half ending in a scoreless stalemate, a pair of freshmen, forward Haley Wingender and midfielder Cierra Gamble both scored their first career goals as members of the NAU women’s soccer program.
Wingender, a Las Vegas-area native, had the special opportunity of scoring her first collegiate goal in front of her family and friends in her hometown.
Freshman goalkeeper Natalie Gilbertson, also a Las Vegas area native, recorded her first victory as a goalkeeper in the win over FAU on Aug. 31.
“It shows that we’re growing . . . from the freshmen up to the seniors,” Wingender said. “We’re growing as a team. It’s more promising, I’m confident in the team and how we can play.”
Wingender scored in the 62nd minute from 12 yards and Gamble added to the lead in the 88th minute off of a single-touch. The Lumberjacks were outshot 14–10, but showed that their offensive wings were beginning to spread on the field.
“I think the most important thing is that our team is maturing with every game,” Luciano said. “On Friday, we came out lethargic, but we pressed Florida Atlantic and got our two goals.”
The Jacks played the Big 12 Conference member Oklahoma on Sunday.
The top returning goal scorer from this past season, sophomore midfielder Sarah Tarver, opened up the contest in the eighth minute with her first goal of the season off of an assist from freshman midfielder Demi Schmeider.
The momentum, however, was not sustained for long.
“Because we were able to compete with them, I think that it helped us realize that we can stick with any team we play,” Tarver said.
Oklahoma showed their veteran savvy by putting up three unanswered goals in the 22nd, 57th and 70th minutes.
The Jacks improved on their previous season-high shot total of 10 by putting up 13 shots against the Sooners, who put 18 shots on goal.
“I was impressed with how quickly the team absorbed new information for the game against Oklahoma,” Luciano said. “We made three mistakes that led to three goals . . . it’s a game I think we should have won.”
The Lumberjacks have begun to find their rhythm offensively after two consecutive double-digit shot totals.
“Anytime you play a veteran Big 12 team loaded with seniors and juniors and you come out with six freshmen, three sophomores and two seniors, you’re going to make young mistakes,” Luciano said. “But the future is really promising for our program.”
Their next action of the 2012 season is this weekend against the University of San Francisco and the University of California, Davis.